David Katz, the gunman that opened fire on Sunday during an online video game tournament, killing two people. Picture: Supplied
David Katz, the gunman that opened fire on Sunday during an online video game tournament, killing two people. Picture: Supplied

Sinister details about Jacksonville shooter

THE suspect in Sunday's deadly shooting at a Florida video game tournament had previously been hospitalised for mental illness, and was entangled in a long-running feud with his mother.

According to court records in his home state of Maryland, David Katz - who killed two people and wounded 10 others before taking his own life at an e-sports tournament in Jacksonville - was in treatment for psychiatric issues from the age of 12.

As reported by The Associated Press, family divorce records say the 24-year-old from Baltimore was hospitalised twice in psychiatric facilities and was prescribed antipsychotic and antidepressant medications.

The records show Katz's parents, who divorced in 2007, disagreed on how to care for their troubled youngest son. His father, Richard Katz claimed his estranged wife, Elizabeth, exaggerated the boy's symptoms of mental illness as part of their long and bitter custody battle.

David Katz was named as the suspected gunman who opened fire on Sunday (local time) during an online video game tournament that was being livestreamed from a Florida mall. Picture: Supplied
David Katz was named as the suspected gunman who opened fire on Sunday (local time) during an online video game tournament that was being livestreamed from a Florida mall. Picture: Supplied

 

FAMILY ISSUES

According to a 2006 letter from Richard Katz's lawyer, his son saw "a succession of psychiatrists" over the years.

As per police records obtained by AP, as many as 26 calls to police were made from the Katz family home between 1993 and 2009, for issues ranging from "mental illness" to domestic disputes. As least two of those phone calls involved David arguing with his mother, although the reports did not show any physical violence.

Richard and Elizabeth Katz have not been available for comment, however divorce filings say their son played video games obsessively as a young adolescent, often refusing to go to school or bathe.

"His hair would very often go unwashed for days. When I took his gaming equipment controllers away so he couldn't play at 3 or 4 in the morning, I'd get up and find that he was just walking around the house in circles," Mrs Katz said, according to a transcript in the court files.

At one point, she put his gaming controllers in her bedroom behind a locked door and he punched a hole in the door, she said. At times, David "curled up into a ball", refused to attend school and sobbed.

A judge awarded custody of the boy to his mother, with visitation rights to the father, who claimed in court filings that his ex-wife had "an obsession with using mental health professionals and in particular psychiatric drugs to perform the work that parents should naturally do."

He said Mrs Katz routinely gave false information to mental health care providers and denied that his son was ever "diagnosed as psychotic."

DETERIORATING RELATIONSHIPS

By the time he was 15, according to divorce records, Katz's mother had begun to call police for "trivial matters". A transcript of one 911 phone call made in 2010 shows Mrs Katz accused her son of "abusing" her by coming home late after seeing his father. She also said he was "assaulting" her by trying to control the cable cord to the television, AP reports.

As their relationship got increasingly worse, Mrs Katz packed her son's suitcases on at least two occasions and asked him to leave. In 2010, David Katz wrote a letter to a judge asking to live with his father and describing his mother as "pretty crazy."

He was eventually sent to a wilderness therapy program in Utah for nearly 100 days.

HOW DID DAVID KATZ BUY A GUN?

On Sunday, David Katz opened fire at a gaming bar inside a mall in Jacksonville. He killed two people and wounded 10 others before fatally shooting himself during the Madden NFL 19 tournament, authorities said.

In recent weeks, Katz legally purchased the two handguns he carried from a gun store in Baltimore, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.

Federal law requires gun buyers to disclose whether they have ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Maryland law prevents someone from passing a background check to purchase guns if they were either involuntarily committed for any period of time or voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility for at least 30 consecutive days.

Katz's two known hospitalisations as an adolescent - one for 12 days in late 2007, and one for 13 days shortly afterwards - did not reach that threshold.

"It appears that these disqualifications did not apply to David Katz," said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Gun Policy and Research.

Sheriff Williams, who said Katz did not fire both weapons, did not say whether the shooter disclosed his past hospitalisations on the form for the required background check. - with wires


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